Illustration by staff illustrator Sakura Siegel.

Do you know where your children are?

It’s been fifty years since that phrase was plastered on televisions across America, but it bears repeating. The trees are sprouting leaves, the weather’s getting warm– summer’s coming. School’s out. Do you know where your kids will be?

Some families are lucky enough to have a stay-at home parent. In New Jersey, only 2.9% of families in 2021 were that fortunate, according to a study from MagnifyMoney. That leaves 97.1% percent of families needing daycare, a sitter or anyone else.

This isn’t always simple.

According to US Census Bureau, the median household income in 2021 was $50,021. With some quick math, that’s about $24 an hour. Between rent, the amount of children a family might have, and their ages, that might not be enough.

New Jersey Department of Human Services mandates maximum payment rates for childcare and early learning centers, but that maximum price varies based on the child’s age and if they are special needs.

On the lower end, parents can expect to pay about $25 daily, and that’s only if the child needs less than six hours of care a day. Once the child needs more than six hours, that rate can double. Parents of school-aged children can expect to pay about $48 for six-hour care, and parents with special needs babies and toddlers pay over $60.

However, if they want to ensure they’re using a high-quality day care service, the prices shoot up.

The state of New Jersey sponsors an initiative called Grow NJ Kids, which according to their website, assesses child care and early learning centers on a five-star scale. Accredited institutions with Grow NJ Kids ask for about $60 for all day care, according to the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

Grow NJ Kids Logo

That might be too much for some people.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development says on their website that as of this year, minimum wage is $14.13 an hour. If you’re looking for all-day care, that’s about half a day of work used for childcare.

Some people reached out to their communities to find summer childcare.

“When my children were young, six classmates’ parents took a week and watched the six kids! It worked out very well,” JoAnne, a Bayonne resident, said to Slice of Culture.

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For parents without these close relationships, the internet is the best place to find summer childcare. Sites like and UrbanSitter offer places to find babysitters as well as nannies.

Some people even turn to Facebook. However, some people are skeptical of the approach.

“Not a good idea to look for baby sitters on [Facebook],” said Janice, a Hudson County resident. “You’re asking total strangers whom you know nothing about to watch your babies? You need background checks. There are lots of pedophiles out there.”

On some level, looking on Facebook is a modern version of looking at a bulletin board for sitters, so the logic is there.

Corinne, another Hudson County resident, assured Janice that she would be doing background checks on each of the sitters. However, there are some parts of background checking that aren’t as intuitive to parents.

Most parents know about the National Sex Offender Registry. However, there’s also another database New Jersey allows for parents to search– the Child Abuse Record Information or CARI.

The catch is that unlike the Sex Offender Registry, results aren’t instantaneous. According to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, you can expect requests from CARI to be fulfilled within 45 business days. Parents in a pinch can’t make that time to ensure their children are safe.

But just because you put your children in daycare doesn’t mean that you can rest easy. Molly Pitcher, a Jersey City resident, reported screaming coming from the Kidz Inn Daycare, also located in Jersey City.

“I could hear a lot of screaming,” she said on Facebook. “Both kids screaming and crying and adults screaming coming from the windows… [I] couldn’t see anything because all the blinds and shades were shut.”

Slice of Culture reached out to Kidz Inn Daycare for comment, but they couldn’t be reached.

Summer is fast approaching. If you’re one of the parents looking to book a babysitter, a nanny, or other summer childcare, time is of the essence if want to do a background check. Otherwise, daycare registration is starting to open, if you’re lucky enough to scrape the money together.

It’s just like the television PSA: do you know where your children are? Rather, do you know where your children will be?

We want to hear from you! Please help us better serve you and our community by taking this short survey.

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